Last night, the Colorado Avalanche traveled to the “Land of a Thousand Lakes” to battle the Wild. The Avalanche normally have trouble with games on the tail end of a back-to-back, but last night they looked like the fresher team. Coming out and applying early pressure to the Wild, the Avalanche controlled the tempo of the entire game from the opening face-off.
The Avalanche clung to a two-goal lead throughout the game due to the outstanding play of their goalie Semyon Varlamov. Varly posted his fourth shutout of the season stopping all 30 shots he faced. Oddly enough, all of Varlamov’s shutouts this season have come away from Pepsi Center.
Varlamov looks as if he is making his plea to be the go-to goaltender down the stretch. Varly may indeed get the opportunity to be the number one goalie for the Avs going into the playoff run. It would be foolish not to play him because of how hot he is right now. But Colorado will not play Varlamov exclusively down the stretch. They will still play Giguere, but should ride Varly more than Giggy as they look to make a run late.
The Avalanche player that made the biggest impact last night was newly acquired Jamie McGinn. McGinn scored both of the Avalanche’s goals and made the front office look like geniuses on trade day. In fact, the score sheet looks like somebody hit the copy and paste button for the two goals because Mueller and Elliot both assisted McGinn’s goals. So far, Downie and McGinn have been more than the Avalanche had bargained for. Each player has contributed at least two goals since being acquired and look to add more to their total before season’s end.
The Avalanche are still stagnated in tenth place, but gained a little ground on eighth place last night. Now the Avs are tied with the Kings with 72 points and are one point behind the Sharks in eighth. The team that really put a strain on the Avalanche’s playoff aspirations last night was the Dallas Stars. They picked up three points in a shootout victory over Calgary and distanced themselves just a bit further in the West. The Avs now need to keep the momentum they found in the “Twin Cities” and roll with it as they wrap-up their home and home with the Wild Tuesday at Pepsi Center.
1) (G) Varlamov COL
2) (G) Hackett MIN
3) (L) McGinn COL
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